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Walmart offers Amazon alternative in the cloud


After two years of development, Walmart’s OneOps cloud management and application lifecycle platform is being made available to the open source community in a move that highlights a sharp distinction with Amazon Web Services.

Walmart has been on a digital transformation for the past decade, but in recent years activity at the retailer’s Bentonville home office and San Bruno, California, digital headquarters has reached a fever pitch thanks to multi-billion investments. WalmartLabs plays a key role in that transformation by bringing together newly developed digital capabilities with Walmart’s physical assets to move the company closer to realizing CEO Doug McMillon’s vision of being, “the first to deliver a seamless shopping experience at scale.”

“Whether we’re deploying constant improvements to our website or launching new features in online grocery, our OneOps platform has been there to help us do that faster and at a lower cost in the cloud,” according to a blog post authored by Jeremy King, chief technology officer of Walmart Global eCommerce and head of @WalmartLabs and Tim Kimmet, VP of platform and systems, at @WalmartLabs.

In explaining the logic behind making OneOps available to the open source community, the pair added, “we hear from companies of all sizes that they’re also undergoing a digital transformation that’s focused on customers and operated in the cloud. They tell us they want to spend less time and money on (information technology) and more time on delivering experiences to customers faster.”

Speed and low cost are recurring themes in today’s retail world and King and Kimmet contend OneOps delivers on both fronts and believe the open source community will be able to improve the platform.

“OneOps enables developers to code their products in a hybrid, multi-cloud environment. This means they can test and switch between different cloud providers to take advantage of better pricing, technology and scalability – without being locked in to one cloud provider,” according to King and Kimmet. “By making OneOps available to the open source community, we’re enabling any organization to achieve the same cloud portability and developer benefits that Walmart has enjoyed. It makes sense for Walmart to release OneOps as an open source project so that the community can improve or build ways for it to adapt to existing technology.”

Their reference to “being locked in” is seen by many in the tech world as a shot at Amazon Web Services (AWS), the highly profitable, popular and rapidly grown division of which is not open source. While OneOps does not provide the same type of secure hosting capabilities as AWS, it does provide a free alternative to AWS’ paid cloud solution development and management services.

According to King and Kimmet, the main benefits of OneOps are:

• Continuous lifecycle management — once a developer launches an application, OneOps helps run that app on “auto-pilot.” It automatically manages the application when unforeseen changes occur in the cloud, scaling or repairing it as needed.

• Cloud portability enables users to move applications, databases or even entire cloud environments freely from one cloud provider to another. Users are able to “cloud shop” and take advantage of better technology, capacity, scalability, security, customer service or lower costs.

• Rapid innovation with safe guards means software engineers can quickly spin up virtual machines in a matter of minutes and begin coding, without having to spend hours specifying the intricacies of a specific cloud environment. OneOps models all of that for them.

• Greater control of cloud environment means that instead of cloud providers dictating what proprietary tools and technologies we have to use, or how much bandwidth we can have, OneOps puts the control back into the hands of developers.

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